More than 2½ years have passed since Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer first began to explore the City of Dreaming Spires and its pubs. Since then we have returned several times and with each visit our insight has grown exponentially. But not only has our insight changed; some of the pubs have changed too. It’s time for an update…
Within the area bounded by the Rivers Thames and Cherwell to the west and east, and the Oxford University Parks to the north and south, Oxford city center contains roughly thirty pubs that serve craft beer in cask or keg form. This area includes all of the historic Oxford colleges and is therefore where most of the city’s visitors will be concentrated.
Pubs from our original post:
- The Duke’s Cut has been re-branded as The Lighthouse.
- The Grapes has been re-branded as Beerd Oxford.
- No changes at Four Candles, King’s Arms, Turf Tavern, Head of the River, or Swan and Castle.
- Bear Inn – tiny Fuller’s ‘hidden gem’; typically three Fuller’s ales + one local guest.
- Eagle & Child – cosy Nicholson’s pub owned by St John’s College; has literary connections.
- Jam Factory – this quirky gallery/bar/café is the brewery tap for Cotswold Brewing. Superb German-style lagers plus the venue’s excellent selection of cask, keg, and bottled craft beers from British and European breweries never disappoints.
- Lamb & Flag – CAMRA’s City Pub Of The Year. Owned by St John’s College and continuously operated as a tavern since 1695; today a free house offering cask ales provided by Palmer’s, Skinner’s and Theakston’s breweries, plus rotating guests.
- Royal Blenheim – large Victorian pub with an interesting setup. Owned by one brewery (Everards) and operated by another (White Horse). Serves as brewery tap with ten hand pumps including four or five rotating guests. Food is good too and very reasonably priced.
- St Aldates Tavern – above average gastro-pub in a great location. We were impressed with the menu and the quality of our food did not disappoint. Also, the well kept ales have a focus on LocAle breweries. The bar has six hand pumps for real ale and cider plus sixteen keg lines; with this many taps we don’t begrudge three or four being used for fizzy yellow Euro-swill.
RescuedRefurbished in 2012 by City Pub Co, if it seems familiar it is – read below.*
The map below incorporates this latest information. Links to the pubs’ websites should be available above or by clicking a pub’s name or marker in the map. One venue is missing however: Three Goats Heads, a Samuel Smith’s pub — yes, the renowned brewery of Tadcaster, Yorkshire fame — is one we heard about only recently. Samuel Smith’s reputation alone; after all they are to Tadcaster what Fuller’s is to Chiswick, Wadworth is to Devizes, Elgood’s is to Wisbech, etc. makes them worth a visit. As such we have to check them out at our next opportunity.
* City Pub Company is the 24 and growing estate of pubs that includes Oxford’s St Aldates Tavern and five “Brew House” venues — Bath, Bristol, Cambridge, Norwich and Temple (London). This is the company that through its co-founder, David Bruce, traces its lineage back through the Capital Pub Co to the Firkin pub chain. An early City Pub Co venture was to install a brewery in an old police station — the now defunct Henley Brew House. This was much to the chagrin of Brakspear, whose Bull Street Brewery was being developed around the corner. Money talked and the brewery walked — from Henley to London. Today the kit at Temple Brew House produces beer for thirsty London barristers rather than Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer during their visits to Henley on Thames (read about it).